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A man carries three cardboard boxes out of his apartment. There are six more stacked being him and a plant is off to the side.

Here’s Where To Get Free Boxes for Your Move

Moving Tips and Hacks

by LB Gabriel Posted on May 2, 2024
Boxes are an essential part of the moving process. If you have a small apartment, you may only need to spend up to $50 to get what you need. But if you have a larger home, getting enough moving boxes and materials can take a toll on the total budget for your move. You can save on the expense of new boxes by finding some gently used ones instead. And you won’t just be cutting expenses — reusing boxes offers a more sustainable environmental option. Wondering where to get free boxes? Here are some suggestions.

1. Friends and Family

Wondering “Where can I get free boxes and packaging?” One of the easiest and fastest options may be reusing ones from your friends, family, or coworkers. Take note of anyone you know who moved recently or may have just had a lot of shipments sent to their house (like newlyweds!). Even if they don’t have any boxes or free moving supplies, they may know where to find moving boxes in your area. Once you start asking around, a friend or family member may be able to connect you to someone they know who has boxes they’d be happy to give away.

Pro Tip: Figuring out where to get free boxes is a great first step, but there’s more you can do to keep your budget in check. See our 2024 Guide to Interstate Moving for more detailed money-saving ideas.

2. Office Supply Store

Contact your local Office Depot or office supply store to find out when their weekly shipments usually arrive. Often, they’re fine with giving away boxes they don’t need after unpacking everything. Make sure to ask for boxes that have lids, which are typically used for printer paper shipments. And try visiting during store hours when they aren’t super busy and a store associate or manager might have more time to help you out.

3. Local Restaurants and Shops

Restaurants and liquor stores typically receive multiple shipments a week — from cases of beer to produce crates — which equals lots of leftover boxes. Start by asking anyone you know who works at a restaurant or checking in person the next time you’re in one. Find out when they normally get their shipments each week and if they’d be willing to give you some of the boxes. Most restaurants and stores are fine with giving them away; you just have to time it right, since they usually recycle or dispose of them quickly to save space. 

If possible, try to snag some wine boxes. They typically have dividers inside, which are great for packing things like shoes and accessories. The boxes you don’t want to take with you? Those that are no longer functional or have remnants of food in them. It’s okay to be picky, when it comes to boxes from food establishments. The last thing you want is a pest infestation in your new digs!

Several bundles of flattened cardboard boxes are tied up with gray string.

Local recycling events could have lots of free moving boxes or boxes available for much cheaper than brand-new boxes.

4. Community Events

Local community centers and non-profits like Habitat for Humanity often host events to promote recycling and reusing items. Check the listings for upcoming events in your local newspaper or online on Facebook. You might see a recycling event that could have lots of free moving boxes or boxes available for much cheaper than brand-new boxes. These are also great to keep in mind for after your move! Many cities hold special events for recycling specific items, like foam and packing peanuts, which typically can’t be recycled through your normal curbside service. 

5. Wholesale and Bulk Supply Stores

Like the other retail establishments mentioned above, wholesale clubs and bulk supply stores receive tons of weekly shipments filled with large items, which means they’re breaking down lots and lots of cardboard boxes. So will Sam’s Club give you free boxes, for example? What about Costco? If you’re a member, you may have an easier time asking for a free box favor than non-members, but it can’t hurt to ask. The one downside is that most of these boxes don’t have tops, so you may only want to use them for smaller items you transport yourself. 

Pro Tip: No time to find free moving boxes and other free moving supplies? Get them delivered to your door with fast, free shipping. Order online now.

6. Craigslist Classifieds

Lots of people post free stuff on Craigslist — all you have to do is show up and take it away. Look at the “free stuff” section on your local Craigslist site and search for free boxes in your ZIP code. You might be surprised at how many you see listed! Most people like to know the boxes are being reused instead of taking up energy to be recycled at a facility. Plus, if they have a ton of boxes, it saves them a trip to the local recycling center.

7.  Facebook Marketplace

While most people are familiar with Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace is actually on the rise for a lot of people who frequently buy and sell used goods. A quick search for “free moving boxes” will typically turn up lots of options, including free moving supplies like bubble cushioning roll. And without the anonymity of Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace might give you more peace of mind when selecting where to get free boxes safely.

8. Nextdoor App

If you’ve noticed a moving truck or portable container in your neighborhood, there’s a good chance someone nearby is going to have plenty of boxes they need to get rid of. You can take the opportunity to meet your new neighbors — and ask about their boxes! The Nextdoor app makes it even easier to see what’s nearby. Similar to Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, people often post free boxes or packing materials. The bonus of the Nextdoor app is that it’s limited to people who have confirmed they live in your neighborhood or general area. A ton of free boxes may only be just a short walk up the street, which is ideal — especially if you don’t have a car!

A sloppy stack of delivery boxes and packing paper await new life as recycled moving boxes.

It’s a good idea to start saving your delivery boxes to be reused during your upcoming move.

9. Delivery Boxes

If you know you're moving in the next few months, it’s a good idea to start saving your delivery boxes. This may not accommodate your entire move, but every bit helps. If you’re close with your neighbors or active on the Nextdoor app, ask those nearby if they’d be willing to donate to the cause. Offer to pick the boxes up yourself to prevent extra work on their part.

What Happens After You Figure Out Where To Get Free Boxes?

Once you’ve determined how to get boxes for moving, the next step is preparing the free moving boxes for another round of use. Most likely you received them compressed or flattened, so you’ll want plenty of packing tape to reassemble and secure the boxes to make sure they’re durable. And don’t forget to cross out or cover any old labels.

Get some markers and consider getting some stick-on labels that you can write on — this will ensure you and your movers can easily read what’s inside the boxes. And this is especially important if you’ll be using storage as part of your move and need to keep track of everything.

How Can I Move Without Boxes?

If your hunt for free boxes hasn’t been as successful as you’d like, or you’re looking for ways to condense your items, here are some cardboard-free options:

  • Dressers and chests: You likely already have some moving containers — your hollow furniture! Fill sturdy dressers and chests with clothes, then hold everything together with plastic moving wrap.
  • Suitcases and hampers: Treat your suitcases and hampers like boxes and fill them up with smaller items. When packing, use space-saving folding techniques like the army roll, or put items inside packing cubes. If you have any spare space, fill it with socks or other small accessories.
  • Plastic containers: If you don’t already have plastic bins or crates, this one may not fall under the “free moving supplies” category. However, these organizational items are a worthwhile investment for any move — whether you’re using boxes or not. Clear containers are especially helpful for packing the things you’ll need for the first full week in your new house because they make it easy to locate the essentials. Don’t overdo it with the plastic containers, though. They’re durable and weatherproof but not the sturdiest when it comes to stacking. They could break or crack during transit, since they don’t fit together as tightly as cardboard boxes.

A woman is smiling as she receives used moving boxes for free from someone who doesn’t need them anymore.

As long as your moving boxes are structurally sound, they can be used again for another thrifty move.

Don’t Forget To Pay It Forward

If you’re done with your move and still have boxes in good shape, use one or more of the suggestions above to pass along those free moving boxes to someone in need. You’re not the only mover trying to figure out where to get free boxes!

Have your boxes made their last move? Drop them off at your nearest recycling center.

Need more packing and moving tips? See How To Pack Boxes for Moving and 6 Moving Hacks To Make You a Moving Ninja.

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, she's a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she's not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.
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